Sunday, April 13

4… 3… 2… 1… and it’s lift off with the Revell Space Shuttle!

Revell re-releases the Space Shuttle Launch Tower in 1/144 scale.  Our man from Belgium Nic is building it so we thought we would ask him what he thinks as he unboxes the kit and how he plans to use some add-ons by LVM to maximize this kit.
Launch Tower & Space Shuttle with Booster Rockets
Kit N°: 04911
Kit type: Injection Moulded
Scale: 1/144
Sprues: 28 styrene + 1 clear
Part count: 400
Decals for 4 different Space Shuttles (Enterprise, Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis)
(photo: National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
One of the most impressive things I have ever seen was the launch of a Space Shuttle, almost 20 years ago. It was one of those moments where the actual event – it only takes a few minutes for the shuttle to go out of sight after lift-off – was as great as the anticipation to witness it. I knew then that whenever I would have the possibility to get my hands on Revell’s Space Shuttle Launch Tower, I would not hesitate. I never found one, but fortunately Revell re-released it in a limited edition, just this month!

Some pictures from Revell of how the finished kit looks
And the launch tower..
It has to be one of the biggest boxes in their range; it combines the Space Shuttle, its booster rockets and large fuel tank, the launch platform and the entire tower. Inside you find loads of white plastic (400 parts) and a 32 page instruction plan. With all the new kits around, this one shows it has been produced in another age. This is particularly clear when you look at the Space Shuttle itself: it has raised panel lines and although it isn’t small, there is no cockpit. By going through the parts it is clear from the start that this will build into a very impressive model, but it sure isn’t going to be a walk in the park. I guess that’s why you don’t see that many built.
Going through the building instructions, building the booster rockets and the large fuel tank looks pretty straightforward and easy. Only about 20 parts need to be glued and painted and: done. The Shuttle itself probably won’t be too hard either, but the instructions show you how to build the cargo bay and landing gear and off course, that’s not necessary. And this brings me to the weakest part of this release: the instruction plans. Revell never really invests in nicely worked out plans. For a kit this complex, I feel it could really be a problem. For the simple substructures you won’t have any problems, but for the tower itself, it just might be another story. I see loads of parts that are in the kit that you won’t need, but also parts that are necessary for the build and nowhere to be found on the plans! Going over the building steps for the tower, you have no idea what it will look like when constructed and because of this you can make a lot of mistakes. It isn’t like with an aircraft or military vehicle where you can easily see which part is supposed to go where.
This photo shows the complexity of the construction of the tower.
Now, looking at the parts of this kit is really motivating to build it. And the parts look good! A nice base all over, as these photos show:
A lot of railings are included in this kit – there are actually two of these sprues – but you have to cut them yourself according to the length you need. I hope there is enough railing in the kit.
The wings of the Space Shuttle with their raised panel lines. You can see from the flash on the sprues and the wings that it is a kit with some miles on it…
The canopy is the only clear part to be used. Looking through this part, you would see nothing, because no cockpit is to be found in the kit… I don’t know if a lot can be seen, but you might consider scratching just a little bit of a cockpit.
The biggest parts of the kit are also the easiest ones: the external fuel tank of the Shuttle filled with oxygen and liquid hydrogen.
This is the biggest part of the Mobile Launch Platform (MLP).
These parts are for the sound suppression water system that is quite prominent on top of the launch platform. It is a nice addition to the kit, but… how to build it and where to place it on the platform is a mystery – there is no mention of these parts in the instructions. Instead, the instructions make you glue some support struts to keep the Space Shuttle, its fuel tank and boosters in place. The photo below shows you the position of these parts on the MLP (photo: National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
Inside the instructions, you will find a flyer for photo etched update sets for the tower, produced by the Dutch company LVM Studios. I once saw these built up and although they are quite an investment, it really brings a lot of extra details and finesse to the kit. Here are some photos of these update sets:
More info on these sets can be found on

Of course, when looking at the real tower – and fortunately a huge amount of photos are available in books and on the web, you can see about a zillion things that can be added to the kit, like miles and miles of tubing and framing. That’s for everyone to decide of course, but it would potentially cost you a small fortune in Evergreen if you want to detail it completely. (photo: National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
The decals in this kit are mostly for the Space Shuttle and they look absolutely great. If they work as well as on the recent Revell kits I made, I don’t have to worry about them, even though I’m not a wiz with decals. You have the choice for several Space Shuttles; I think I’ll build the Atlantis. Dirk Frimout, the only Belgian astronaut to have been on a Shuttle mission, flew in Atlantis with STS-45 - and being from Belgium, that’ll be my choice.
So, am I happy that Revell released this limited edition kit? Sure am ! Is this a kit that will build into an impressive model? No doubt about it! Is it going to take a lot of time? Oowww, yes it is. It is not the kind of kit you start and finish within a couple of weeks.  It is a challenge and with those instructions, it’ll be an even bigger one! But that’s what modellers like, right? Out of box?  Maybe so. The boosters and Space Shuttle itself probably, although I’ll might re-scribe the Shuttle’s panel lines. I’m sure that doing the top of the wings and fuselage will make a big difference at the end. And I’ll build a little cockpit for it, it just doesn’t seem right without one. The tower and MLP can be detailed a lot for those that have the spirit for it. For me: back in a couple of months with a building report!

Nicolas Deboeck
A big thank you to Revell for the review kit.